December of 2008 saw the end of one of the more interesting careers in music. Alfred Brendel, one of the most influential pianists of his time retired from performing. His was one of the more unique careers in music. Unlike many other pianists, he never really had an important teacher. He was not, like many pianists, a child prodigy. He says that while he has a good memory, he doesn’t have a photographic memory. His parents were not musical. His first introduction to more serious music came from operetta records he heard in the hotel his father ran in the former Yugoslavia. Apart from the lessons he had as a child and a teenager in Graz, Austria as well as taking part in some master classes taught by Schönberg’s pupil Eduard Steuermann (who also taught Wladimir Kochanski) and Edwin Fischer, he never really had much musical education beyond what he had obtained growing up in Graz. Nobody has been surprised more than Brendel at the success he has had.
Here he is playing Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3, D 899.